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Internet Edition, March 12, 2008, Page 1

2008 Rankings Issue - Full table of '07 revenues from 182 PR firms.
See pages 4-6.


Plano, Tex., the convention center town on the outskirts of the Dallas/Ft. Worth metropolis, is looking for a more aggressive PR strategy to position itself as a tourism, meetings and sports destination.

The Plano Convention and Visitors Bureau, which was set up in 1988 and funded by hotel taxes, has issued a request for qualifications to hire a PR firm for its effort to slice a bigger part of the Dallas/Ft. Worth area’s estimated $16 billion in tourism-related spending.

The PCVB said it does not currently work with a PR firm. The goal of hiring a firm is to reach travel writers and other journalists, organize promotional media trips, and develop a media kit for the organization, among other tasks.

The Bureau has a full-time staff of six and operates on a budget of about $1.3M. Deadline for PR proposals is March 25. The RFQ is at


Pam Talbot, 61, is stepping down as Edelman's U.S. president/CEO on July 1 after a dozen years at the helm.

Matthew Harrington, 45, chair of the No. 1 independent firm's corporate group and head of the eastern region, succeeds Talbot. The 18-year Edelman veteran assumes command of Edelman's 1,700-strong operation with revenues in the $270M range.

Nancy Ruscheinski, head of the midwest region, is promoted to the COO slot. The 46-year-old takes charge of Strategy One, research; Matter, entertainment plus practices such as consumer health, tourism, food & nutrition, sports and multicultural marketing.

Talbot joined Edelman in 1972 as an account executive. She was responsible for campaigns such as Dove Beauty and the groundbreaking alliance between Heinz and Earth Island Institute for Dolphin-Safe tuna.


Karyn Margolis, a one-time press secretary to New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is now at Manning Selvage & Lee.

She is VP-corporate responsibility and the New York representative for the firm’s ECO “green” network, which is co-headed by Megan Jordan in Los Angeles and Sheila McLean in Washington, D.C.

Margolis joins the Publicis Groupe’s unit from Edelman, where she served as VP-CSR and issues management in the firm’s Big Apple office.

She has counseled Merck, Kraft, Heinz, AstraZeneca and American International Group on CSR programs.


Ogilvy Government Relations is piloting European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., the parent of Airbus, in its successful effort so far to land a potential $40B contract from the Pentagon for the next fleet of Air Force tankers. The landmark contract faces spirited opposition by those who support keeping the pact in the hands of America-based Boeing.

The Chicago-headquartered aerospace giant won the business in `01, but that deal unraveled in the aftermath of a messy procurement scandal.

Stewart Hall, managing director of OGR, which was known as The Federalist Group until last year, heads the EADS team. He was legislative director to Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), a rare Senate supporter of the Pentagon decision. EADS plans to build a plant in Alabama for final assembly of the aircraft.

OGR received $240K from EADS during the past year for the “air refueling tanker procurement” project among other duties.


Beth Comstock, who headed NBC Universal’s digital offerings for the past two years, is returning to a corporate post at parent General Electric.

The former GE VP-corporate communications and chief marketing officer now gets the senior VP/CMO position. She is in charge of communications, sales, and directing GE’s cross-business digital efforts in areas such as consumer health and environmental tech.

Jeff Zucker, president of NBCU, praised Comstock’s “deep understanding of the opportunities presented by the digital revolution.”


The PR Society, headed by Jeff Julin of MGA Communications, Denver, has removed the 60th Anniversary Committee from its website although original plans were to celebrate the anniversary in both 2007 and 2008.

Almost no publicity on the anniversary took place in 2007. Anniversary committee co-chair was Joe Trahan of McDonough, Ga., who was also chair of the Educators Academy in 2007.

(Continued on page 7)

Internet Edition, March 12, 2008, Page 2


Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger denied a shareholder charge that the entertainment giant is defending Hillary Clinton’s campaign during a terse exchange at the March 6 annual meeting in Albuquerque.

The miniseries, “The Path to 9/11,” is the bone of contention. Disney’s ABC-TV unit aired the controversial program commercial-free in `06.

The program criticized Bill Clinton’s handling of the terror threat prior to the run-up of 9/11. Disney has not released the series on DVD, which infuriates conservative groups that believe the company is protecting the President’s legacy and shielding his wife’s political campaign from some heat.

Tom Borelli, head of the Free Enterprise Action Fund, challenged Iger to release the Path as a way to recoup the company’s $40M-plus “loss” that it suffered when “Path” aired without commercials.

He told shareholders that Iger has been a donor to the Clinton campaign, and noted that Disney has promoted controversial films in the past such as “Fahrenheit 9/11,” a flick highly critical of the Bush Administration.

Just prior to the meeting, FEAF distributed a release on PR Newswire/U.S. Newswire accusing Iger of “putting personal politics ahead of shareholder profits.”

It noted that Iger has “invested thousands of dollars in Hillary Clinton’s political career.”

The Disney CEO assured shareholders the decision not to release the Path on DVD is based purely on business decisions.


DBMedia Strategies is representing Peter Lynch, the Fidelity Investments vice chairman who settled an SEC probe over improper gifts last week.

Boston-based DBM is the firm of Doug Bailey, a former Boston Globe reporter who was recently a senior VP for Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications.

Bailey put out a statement for Lynch announcing the settlement and is handling media inquiries. In the statement, Lynch said he “ never intended to do anything inappropriate, and I regret having made those requests.” He agreed to pay $16K to cover the value of the gifts, plus interest.

Fidelity agreed to pay $8M to settle claims that Lynch and 12 other current and former executives took gifts like concert and airline tickets in exchange for business with the mutual fund company. Lynch reportedly asked for tickets to U2 and Santana concerts and passes to the U.S. Ryder Cup golf event.


French/West/Vaughan has won a competitive review for Caribbean resort owner and operator Divi Hotels Marketing’s PR account.

Divi had been working with New York travel and tourism PR firm Adams Unlimited.

Raleigh, N.C.-based FWV was tapped to handle national and global PR for the company’s nine resorts, focusing on the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, the Netherlands, and South America.


MySpace, the top online social networking site, is stepping up its online safety education efforts with a PR blitz targeting parents and teens.

The News Corp.-owned portal tapped New York agency Big Fuel to produce a print and broadcast PSA campaign, “Don’t Stop the Dialogue” that will run for the next two months on Fox networks.

Danny Canarick, marketing and PR manager for Big Fuel, told O’Dwyer’s that the PSA took on online safety by recalling familiar concepts that parents already know – like teaching kids to buckle a seat belt and not talking to strangers in the park – and associating those common lessons with teaching online safety.

Law enforcement, legislators on the local and national level, and interest groups have focused on sites like MySpace and Facebook as potential threats to children’s safety online.

In January, MySpace forged an agreement with state attorneys general to crack down on harmful material and tactics like cyberbullying and pornography on social networking sites.

The suicide death of a 13-year girl believed to be the victim of cyberbullying on MySpace brought the issue to new prominence late last year.

The new MySpace campaign also includes a partnership with two online youth safety groups – iKeepSafe, which is composed of public officials, and Enough is Enough, a non-profit that lobbies and conducts PR efforts to highlight online child safety.

MySpace has also set up a safety website,, to educate parents, teachers and teens about safe online behavior.

Edelman is MySpace’s outside PR counsel.


Facebook, the fast-growing social networking site, is looking to hire a VP-communications and public policy as CEO Mark Zuckerberg, 23, seeks to add heft to its executive roster.

The Palo Alto, Calif-based company has just recruited Google veteran Sheryl Sandberg, 38, as COO.

Sandberg was Google’s VP-global online sales and operations, responsible for building the search giant’s AdSense and AdWords programs.

Brandee Barker, a Facebook spokesperson, told the Wall Street Journal that Zuckerberg also is on the prowl for a General Counsel.

Facebook recorded 101M visitors in January, according to comScore. That is up from 25M a year ago.

Zuckerberg is looking to double revenues this year to the $350M range.


G.S. Schwartz & Co. has been tapped to guide PR for the New York Wine Expo.

The firm picked up the assignment following a competitive pitch.

The New York Wine Expo follows a Boston show in February which attracted 20K people and is slated for March 7-9 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center.

More than 170 winemakers will be on hand and 600 products will be highlighted.

Internet Edition, March 12, 2008, Page 3


Newsweek, which is a property of Chicago real estate mogul Sam Zell, is cutting 120 jobs to deal with the “soft” advertising environment.

Publisher Tim Knight told staffers via a memo that his mission is to "ensure that we are a healthy organization equipped and motivated to succeed in this rapidly changing and challenging marketplace." He concedes the company cannot "grow by cutting," but he must respond to the revenue decline by making "cost adjustments."

Dennis Grabhorn, head of a Newsweek union, believes the paper is "getting rid of more Indians while keeping the chiefs."

ASK.COM SWITCHES GEARS, the search engine, is going to refocus its sights, and target married women as its priority market.

The Oakland-based firm has less than a five percent share of the $40B search market compared to industry leading Google’s 60 percent.

Ask, which was launched as Ask Jeeves more than a decade ago, will field queries from women on how to better manage their households, health, children’s homework and entertainment options.

Jim Safka, who assumed the CEO slot at Ask two months ago, says there is a lot of excitement about the firm’s “clear focus” and the “trajectory-changing results it will deliver.” He ran, an InterActiveCorp. sister company of Ask, prior to his new post.

Ask is laying off eight percent of its workforce (40 people) with the new streamlined focus.


Real Simple magazine and the TLC cable network have inked a deal to develop content for TV, print, radio, internet, and in-store events targeting “women who are happy with their careers and personal lives, but are trying to make their lives easier.”

TLC has ordered 15 episodes of a prime-time TV series to debut in August, and Real Simple will simultaneously launch interactive digital and print content as part of the endeavor. Ad sales will be a joint effort by both entities. Real Simple brought in Andy Friendly, a founding producer of “Entertainment Tonight,” and David Stanley of entertainment law firm Greenberg Glusker Entertainment, to help shepherd the deal with TLC. Friendly and Stanley will continue to work as consultants on the show.

An executive producer and host have not yet been named. Real Simple is owned by Time Warner. TLC is part of Discovery Communications.


The Sporting News, which is the nation’s oldest sports magazine, is moving from St. Louis to Charlotte in July. It has about 30 staffers in Missouri.

TSN was purchased in `06 by American City Business Journals. Paul Allen’s Vulcan Sports Media was the previous owner. Allen is Microsoft co-founder.

ACBJ, which publishes 41 city papers and NASCAR Scene, is based in Charlotte.


Federal Communications members Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein pushed for a probe into the Feb. 24 “60 Minutes” blackout by WHNT-TV (Huntsville, Ala.) of a story about whether the trial and conviction of Alabama’s former Democratic Governor Don Siegelman was politically motivated.

The story suggested that former White House political advisor Karl Rove had a hand in the matter.

WHNT issued a statement on Feb. 28 that cited equipment failure for the eight-minute blackout after initially pinning the blame on signal failure from CBS.

Oak Hill Capital Partners, the financial arm of the billionaire Bass brothers, owns the Alabama station. The Bass family is a financial supporter of President Bush.

Abernathy MacGregor Group, speaking for the station, has denied that there was any political motivation for the blackout.


The CW, the struggling network of Time Warner and CBS, has eliminated its comedy unit in a streamlining unit that trims about 25 jobs from the payroll.

The drama and current programming departments are being merged to be in a better position to work together.

Earlier, the network announced that its Kids WB morning unit is to be shuttered in the fall.

The CW counts “Gossip Girls,” “Smallville” “Everyone Hates Chris” and “America’s Next Top Model” among its programming jewels.


The New York Times has inked a deal with Philadelphia Newspapers, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Daily News, to print the Times at PN’s Schuylkill plant in Conshohocken, Penn., and to distribute home delivery for the Times throughout the Philadelphia area.

Scott Heekin-Canedy, president and general manager of the Times, said the move is the paper’s third such expansion deal, following pacts in Salt Lake City and Dallas, and brings to 25 the number of locations in the U.S. and Canada where it’s printed.

People ________________________

Emil Wilbekin, former editor-in-chief of Vibe, has been named EIC of bi-monthly urban entertainment title Giant Magazine, published by Radio One, Inc.

Wilbekin succeeds Smokey Fontaine, who is being promoted to chief content officer to oversee content for Radio One’s push into the digital realm.

Wilbekin was at Vibe for twelve years and earlier was VP of brand development at Marc Ecko Enterprises and consulted for Sean John, AXE, and Microsoft.

Briefs ____________________________

Wedding and newlywed publisher The Knot Inc. has acquired The Bump Media Inc., publisher of The Bump magazines, which cover pregnancy and first-time parents. Bump magazines are local guides in 11 markets.

(Media news continued on next page)

Internet Edition, March 12, 2008, Page 4


Seven of the ten largest PR firms reporting their 2007 net fees had gains of 10% or more including three that were up more than 20%--Edelman, Qorvis and ICR (formerly Integrated Corporate Relations).

APCO Worldwide, third largest firm, grew 19% to $97.5 million.

Twenty-one of the 50 largest firms had gains of 20% or more. This compared with last year's "top 50" when 20 reported gains of 20%+.

A record 182 firms substantiated their net fee and employment totals for the O'Dwyer rankings, up from 140 last year.

The top ten, whose combined fees, led by Edelman's $395.4 million, totaled $881M, averaged a gain of 16%.

Edelman was up 22.2%, Qorvis up 27.6% to $30.4M, and ICR, the financial specialist, up 40% to $24.6M. Edelman's total is almost four times as big as the $106M revenues of the No. 2 firm, Waggener Edstrom. Edelman fees include $256.8M from 11 U.S. offices and $139M from 26 offices abroad. Employment grew from 2,456 to 2,860.

WeissComm Biggest Gainer in Top 50

WeissComm Partners, a healthcare specialist with offices in San Francisco and New York and which operates nationally, a newcomer to the list, had the biggest growth among the top 50-up 77% to $13 million.

Ruder Finn, the fourth biggest independent with $93.5M in fees, declined 5.8%.

Peter Finn, co-CEO, said the firm has undergone a realignment that puts more focus on larger accounts.

In the past 120 days, RF has added eight accounts of $1M or more, he said, as the firm enjoyed its best new business streak in more than 20 years.

Broad categories are now health and wellness; lifestyle including consumer and travel; global connectivity including the internet and technology, and corporate and public affairs including the environment.

Strong Growth Outside New York

While 26 of the 50 biggest ranked PR operations are headquartered in New York, only ten of the next 50 are, indicating that locally-owned independent PR operations are enjoying growth across the U.S.

Many of the firms only recently sprang up and a number of them are headed by former employees of the ad/PR conglomerates.

The principals are active in the firms. Profits, instead of being forwarded to a parent company, are available for adding staff and services.

While many of the independents don't have their own offices abroad, many are members of networks of independent firms that provide worldwide coverage for clients.

Worldcom, the biggest network, has 93 member firms with 112 offices in 40 countries. Fees of the group totaled $189.2 million in 2006. The fee total for 2007 is not yet available.

Pinnacle Worldwide, which celebrated its 30th anniversary last year, reports member firms in 30 countries, 60 major cities, and 1,200 employees.

Other networks include IPREX, listing 33 partner

(Continued on page 6)

Internet Edition, March 12, 2008, Page 5
Click here for rankings table.

Internet Edition, March 12, 2008, Page 6

FIRMS RACK UP GAINS (Continued from 4)

firms in the U.S. and 22 abroad; Public Relations Organization International, and Public Relations Global Network.

39 Firms up 30% or More

Sixteen of the 181 firms had gains of 40% or more; 23 grew from 30%-39%; 27 grew from 20%-29% and 36 grew from 10% to 19%. The total with double-figure gains was 84.

Only 17 firms reported declines while 12 reported keeping even with the previous year and 21 reported gains of 5% or less.

Conglomerate PR Firms Absent

For the sixth straight year, PR firms owned by the five conglomerates (WPP, Omnicom, Interpublic, Publicis, Havas), were not allowed by their parent companies to report any statistics including employment figures. They have cited the danger of being in violation of Sarbanes-Oxley because accounting rules differ from country to country. The last figures reported for about 20 major PR operations and hundreds of smaller PR firms owned by the conglomerates were in 2001.

Many of the conglomerate PR firms have either stopped publishing client lists or have greatly reduced them. Only PR firms that provide client lists are in the O'Dwyer rankings.

Omnicom and WPP, the only holding companies that provide overall PR figures, have been reporting annual growth of about 10% but in some instances half of this growth is from acquisitions.

WPP reported fees of its PR units grew 5.9% organically in 2006 and 12.4% including acquisitions. The fees of all its PR units totaled $1.15 billion in 2006.

Organic and growth via acquisitions is not always broken out by them. The other three provide no PR statistics at all.

Standouts in Top 15

Standout performances in the top 15 ($14.7M or more in fees), besides Edelman, Qorvis, ICR and APCO, were registered by Waggener Edstrom, up 11% to $106M; Text 100, up 12% to $60M; Schwartz Communications, up 13.5% to $30.4M; Regan Communications, up 14% to $21M, and Taylor, up 12% to $20.1M.

Six Soar in 16-25 Category

The best growth in any single category was turned in by the 16-25 range which saw six of the firms grow by more than 20%.

WeissComm grew 77% to $13M; French/West/Vaughan grew 27% to $12.2M; Capstrat grew 37% to $12M; Peppercom grew 42% to $11.8M; 5W PR grew 24.3% to $11.5M, and CRT/Tanaka grew 21.4% to $11.3M.

M Booth & Assocs. just missed the 20% mark in this category by registering a 19.8% jump to $11.3M.

Access PR, the 16th biggest firm, grew 9.5% to $14.1M.

Cubitt, Jacobs Tops 26-50 Category

Fourteen of the firms in the 26-50 category ($7.1M or more in fees) had increases of 10% or more topped by Cubitt, Jacobs & Prosek PR, New York, specialist in financial, technology and issues management, which grew 50.1% to $8.1M.

Shift Communications, Brighton, Mass., handling tech, business-to-business and consumer PR, a newcomer to the list, grew 43.1% to $10.5M.

Imre Communications, Rowson, Maryland, grew 38% to $8.7M; Jackson Spalding, Atlanta, grew 36% to $7.1M; Healthstar, New York, grew 35.4% to $8.9M; the Hoffman Agency, San Jose, grew 35% to $10.1M; Makovsky & Co., New York, grew 32% to $9.2M; Levick Strategic Communications, D.C., grew 28% to $8.5M, and Kaplow Communications, New York, grew 22% to $10.3M.

Kwittken Tops 51-100 Category

Biggest gainer in the 51-100 range ($3.3M to $7.1M) was Kwittken & Co., New York, which handles corporate, marketing PR, IR and editorial services, a newcomer to the list, which gained 55% to $3.39M.

Quinn & Co., New York, grew 48.9% to $4.8M; The Jeffrey Group, Miami, 47% to $5.4M; Formula PR, San Diego, 46.7% to $4.9M; Lewis PR, San Francisco, 34.8% to $6.3M; Page One PR, Palo Alto, newly listed, 33.9% to $4M; CooperKatz, New York, 32.1% to $4.1M; New West, Louisville, Ky., 31.3% to $4.2M; Hager Sharp, D.C., 30% to $5.4M; Pierpont Communications, Houston, 29% to $5.8M; Schneider Assocs., Boston, 28.8% to $3.7M, and Lou Hammond & Assocs., New York, 28% to $6.5M.

Haystack Grows 246%

In the $2M to $3.1M category, The Haystack Group, Atlanta, had the biggest growth-up 246% to $2,004,766.

Other big gains under $3 million in fees were registered by Richard Dukas Communications, New York, newly listed, up 90% to $2.3M; Roman/Peshoff, Holland, Ohio, newly listed, up 60% to $1.7 million; Idea Hall, Costa Mesa, Calif., newly listed, up 45% to $1.7M; Ground Floor Media, Denver, up 37% to $2.3M; Linhart PR, Denver, newly listed, up 34.8% to $2.8M; JS2, Los Angeles, up 34% to $2.1M; v-Fluence Interactive PR, San Diego, up 32% to $2.7M, and Adfero Group, D.C., newly listed, up 26.4% to $2M.



Euroblog, a partnership of Euprera (academics and PR pros from around the world) and Edelman will take place March 13-15 in Brussels.

About 100 leading PR practitioners and academics have been invited to the symposium.

Dozens of speakers will discuss social media and PR from three different angles – new ideas, new research and new business.

Participants will share findings of the latest European and American research.

Keynote speakers include David Brain, president and CEO of Edelman Europe; Philip Young, University of Sunderland, U.K.; Robert French, PR professor of Auburn University; Rick Murray, president of Edelman Digital, and John Van Tiggelen, Institute of Communications Studies, Brussels.

Brain and French will chair a session on teaching social media.

Murray's presentation includes the following passage: “Instead of messaging everyone, we have to move more to a two-way or even multi-way dialogue. Word of mouth starts with great insights, and you get great insights by listening.The web offers us a billion-person focus group which helps companies to create products and services that better fit the needs of their customers.”


Internet Edition, March 12, 2008, Page 7


No mention of the anniversary was made in Philadelphia media in October 2007 when the Society held its annual conference there.

Although Philadelphia Inquirer publisher Brian Tierney, a member of PRS, was one of the featured speakers, the paper did not have any stories on either his speech, the conference or the anniversary.

There has been no mention of the anniversary in any media in Denver. The 2008-10 Strategic Plan of the Society, unveiled last week by Julin, makes no mention of the anniversary.

Post Has Brief Item

The Jan. 7 Denver Post carried a two-line item reporting that Julin had become chairman and CEO of PRS. He was quoted in an article Feb. 29 in the Denver Business Journal by Amy Johnson, president of Colorado chapter of PRS, as saying that "respectful communication is key to understanding what people need from you…the way employees, community members, even shareholders engage with you will be based in large part on the respect you show their differing views and perspectives."

Little ink was also obtained for the 50th anniversary of PRS in 1997-98 although a 100-person task force had been created to seek publicity.

PRS was founded when members of the National Assn. of PR Counsel, New York, and the American Council on PR, a West Coast group, met on Aug. 7, 1947 at the Lake Shore Athletic Club, Chicago.

They signed articles of incorporation and obtained a New York State charter in early 1948.

American PR Assn., Washington, D.C., creator of the Silver Anvil Awards in 1949, joined in 1961.

During its first 30 years, heads of the biggest PR firms such as George Hammond of Carl Byoir & Assocs. and Kal Druck of Harshe-Rotman & Druck, and corporate leaders such as Kerryn King of Texaco, served as officers and directors.

In the mid-1970s, smaller chapters, led by Patrick Jackson of New Hampshire, gained control of the Assembly and passed a bylaw blocking non-accredited members from holding national office.

Strategic Plan Revealed

Although the strategic planning committee was created in 1999 as a "check and balance" against the board, with most members of the 1999 committee not also on the board, the 2008 committee is mostly board members. Julin is chair and other members are 2007 PRS chair Rhoda Weiss, secretary Mary Barber, chair-elect Mike Cherenson, 2006 president Cheryl Procter-Rogers; 2007 director Gerry Corbett, and Dave Rickey, "senior counsel" to the 2008 board.

‘Leading Advocate’ for PR

The 2008-10 SP describes PRS as "the world's leading advocate for communications professionals," saying that, among other things, it provides "thought leadership, ethics and professional excellence."

The plan urges PRS leaders to write on "cutting-edge" topics affecting the PR and greater communications industry. PRS is to "facilitate roundtables and other forums." The previous SP called on PRS to "increase the number of accredited members" but an average of only 130 new PRS APRs has been created in the past three years. The new SP calls on PRS to "determine optimal levels of participation for members" and work with the Universal Accreditation Board to "quantify the value of the APR distinction."

Foundation Gets Little Mention

Whereas the previous SP said a major goal was to "identify the PRS Foundation as the leader in research and education that advances the profession," the new SP says it should "fund best-in-class research and scholarship."

Kathy Lewton, 2001 PRS president, is 2008 president of the Foundation, succeeding Gary McCormick.

Gail Baker, who was chair of Honors & Awards, is chair of the Ethics Board, replacing Linda Cohen. Baker, Dean of the College of Communications, Fine Arts & Media, University of Nebraska, was not a member of the EB, which is a break in EB tradition.

Advocacy Pushed to Chapters

A national advocacy advisory board of 16 has been created headed by Mary Beth West, "senior counsel" to the board. PRS is seeking an outside contractor to develop advocacy materials. Under "Advocacy Issues-Today" on the PRS website, there is this notation: "This page is currently under construction."


Howard Rubenstein is handling PR for Kushner Cos, the owner of a five-story building that collapsed on the afternoon of March 4 in Harlem, forcing the suspension of Metro-North commuter line service to Connecticut and Westchester. Jarad Kushner, principal at the firm, is owner of New York Observer.

Rubenstein said the building had been vacant for six months and the company had intended to rehab the structure. Bricks from the building started to fall two days ago, and the decision was made to demolish the structure.

The PR counselor quoted Kushner, saying that he is grateful that nobody got hurt and expressing remorse for the transit nightmare.

The building is one block away from the Metro-North Station at 125th St. The police and fire departments ordered the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to cut train service become they felt vibrations of the moving trains could lead to more damage.

Thousands of rush-hour commuters at NYC's Grand Central Stations were stranded as train service was suspended.


Standard & Poor's bolstered Interpublic's credit rating to "B+" from "B" following bullish news on the earnings and Sarbanes-Oxley fronts.

S&P cited IPG's solid organic growth and efforts to make its internal control deficiencies complaint with the rules set out by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission as reasons for the upgrade.

The rating service has a positive long-term outlook for the ad/PR firm, but still frets about its high leverage, weak cash flow and profitability measures below WPP Group and Omnicom.

Internet Edition, March 12, 2008, Page 8




The independent PR agency business is thriving throughout the U.S.

That is the message from the ranking of more than 180 U.S. independents on pages 4-5 of this issue, a big jump from the 140 ranked last year.

PR firms are realizing that the best (and cheapest) way to promote their brands is to put up their documented financials each year, even if they had a bad year.

Doing so gets them not only in the main ranking but geographical rankings and rankings by a dozen specialized categories ranging from agriculture and beauty/fashion to sports and travel.

A major angle to the rankings is that 66 of the top 100 PR firms are based outside of New York.

There remain a number of giants in the PR counseling industry that are New York-based but the big growth is in locally-owned independent firms where the principal or principals are active.

They have their hearts and souls in the business and are happy at their work. They are helping clients to grow by having expertise not only with the press, but with all the market segments that their clients want to reach.

They don’t have to cough up 15% and even 25% of “profits” to a parent company nor take orders from other masters (some of whom could be in Europe).

Creativity, still the mainstay of PR, is unleashed this way. We hope the conglomerates will again let their PR units return to the rankings, reporting only PR fees and no ad commissions and providing account lists.

These units are part of publicly-owned companies and susceptible to Sarbanes-Oxley, but there is no reason they can’t document staff counts and payroll totals.

Instead, the conglomerate PR firms and some others are concentrating on winning awards.

WPP’s Martin Sorrell, in the 2006 annual report, says the number of awards won by an ad agency and account wins and profits are closely connected (8/12/07 NL). The Gunn Report, U.K., tracks award totals from dozens of contests. Ogilvy One, for instance, won 595 awards in 2006.

But awards can’t match rankings in credibility. Editors of publications sometimes give out the awards, even though there are panels of judges, and there is too great a link between winners and advertisers.

Some agencies simply “flood” a contest with entries and are bound to win some awards.

The PR Society, as noted on page one, is going to duck just about all observance of its 60th anniversary year which, oddly, it is celebrating in two years (2007 and 2008). It was founded in the summer of 2007 but didn’t get its charter until 2008.

Almost no publicity was obtained on the anniversary in either 1997 or 1998 and the same is holding true for the 2007-2008 non-celebration. PRS just does not want to talk about its past. We have plenty of material on that including such highlights as the refusal of the Society to remove two anti-competitive articles from its code in 1976, forcing the FTC to issue a formal order for this in 1977, and the 15-year practice of copying and selling articles and whole chapters of books without the permission of the authors.

Another skeleton in the PRS closet is the persecution of Summer Harrison in the mid-1980s after she dared to tell PRS (based on what she read in this NL and newspapers) that four PRS members, including two former national officers, gave CIA head and Treasury Secretary Bill Casey at least 25 ideas on how to raise funds for a PR campaign in the U.S. for the Agency. Harrison, who asked for an investigation by the Ethics Board, was censured twice for doing her civic duty and deserves an apology and exoneration.

The claim of PRS in its “Strategic Plan” (page one) that it is “the world’s leading advocate for communications professionals” and that it provides “thought leadership, ethics and professional excellence” is evidence that the Society is delusionary.

Just like the all-APR leadership is no longer representative of the 80% of members who are non-APR, neither is PRS representative of the PR industry nor a leader of it.

PRS in the 1950s and 60s did represent the industry but its obsession with APR starting in the 1970s drove the financial specialists to NIRI, corporate PR execs to the Arthur W. Page Society and (PR) Seminar, and the big PR firms to the Counsel of PR Firms.

The PRS Institute broke away in 1989 to become the independent Institute for PR because of the insistence of PRS that the IPR board be all APR.

PRS members are now mostly in non-profit, healthcare, government, associations, military, and education including PR professors and development/PR offices.

A deep geographical split has occurred in the leadership of PRS. Thirteen of the 17 directors are either from the south, southwest or west. The three easterners left are Mike Cherenson, Chris Veronda and Fran Onofrio. Margaret Hennen is from Minneapolis. None is from New York.

Academics and non-New Yorkers rule the roost as is evident by Jeff Julin’s appointment of Prof. Gail Baker of the University of Nebraska to be Ethics Board chair even though she never served on it.

Three educators are national directors—Assoc. Prof. Rosanna Fiske who as treasurer is in line to be chair-elect; Prof. Vince Hazleton of Radford Univ., and Prof. Dennis Gaschen of Cal. State/Fullerton. 2007 chair Rhoda Weiss has been an adjunct PR professor for many years and director Kathryn Hubbell is seeking a teaching spot.

Because so many qualified PR people are blocked from participating, there is the phenomenon of Bob Frause of Seattle. He is not only chair of the College of Fellows and vice-chair of the Ethics Board, but is on the nominating committee and is chair of the task force studying “certification” of PR pros in categories such as healthcare, tech, etc.

--Jack O'Dwyer


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